Crisis talks over Bok contracts

The South African Rugby Players’ Association (Sarpa) will hold emergency talks with SA Rugby officials in Johannesburg on Thursday morning in a bid to avoid a potential Springbok player strike, Sarpa CEO Piet Heymans said on Wednesday.

Threats of a strike were reported on Wednesday, but Heymans played down the possibility of such drastic action ahead of the Boks’ three-Test tour of Argentina, Wales and France starting next week.

“It is the normal annual contract-review period,” explained Heymans, ” and obviously there are a few problem areas. We will be addressing those in our meeting tomorrow morning.”

Heymans and former Bok centre Hennie le Roux (Sarpa president) will meet SA Rugby’s Dolf van Huyssteen, Andy Marinos and Christo Ferreira to try to iron out the disputed areas.

Heymans said that some players are being offered an increase, some the same package and others will not be offered a full Bok contract.

It is the latter issue that is top of the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.

“It is mostly individual specific. I can’t go into too much detail at this stage, as it is still quite a sensitive subject,” he said.

Bok coach Jake White earlier played down the contract issue, but admitted the squad “don’t need the distraction”.

The Boks have already been disrupted by a host of injuries as well as the disciplinary hearing of lock Victor Matfield and prop Os du Randt.

“We need to continue being successful. It is difficult, but the players are handling the situation professionally,” White said.

Captain John Smit said of the reports of an impending strike: “It’s a storm in a tea cup. [In fact,] this is the most professionally this has been handled since I’ve been involved with the Springboks.”

According to Smit, all contract negotiations will be finalised by October 31.—Sapa

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